EAJS Conference Grant Programme 2015/16
Talmud and Christianity: Rabbinic Judaism after Constantine
Murray Edwards College, University of Cambridge, 26th to 28th June 2016
Main organiser: Dr Holger Zellentin, Department of Theology and Religious Studies, University of Nottingham
Co- organisers: Dr Daniel Weiss, Faculty of Divinity, University of Cambridge, and Dr Michal Bar-Asher Siegal, Goldstein-Goren Department of Jewish Thought, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.
The conference titled Talmud and Christianity: Rabbinic Judaism after Constantine, was held from 26th to 28th June 2016 at the University of Cambridge, and co-organized by Michal Bar-Asher Siegal (Ben Gurion University of the Negev), Daniel Weiss (University of Cambridge), and Holger Zellentin (University of Nottingham). With the help of a generous grant of the EAJS, which was matched by a contribution of the Faculty of Divinity of the University of Cambridge, we were able to bring together a total of 19 participants from the UK, mainland Europe, Israel, and the United States.
1) Event rationale.
The idea behind the international conference was to bring together leading and fresh voices in Talmudic studies and select experts in Roman and Persian Christianity in order to explore the complex relationship of both emulation and enmity between the rabbis and their Christian neighbours. It was our hope that a new look at the Talmud and Christianity, would synergize three of the most central recent developments in the study of rabbinic Judaism: our more precise understanding of the indebtedness of the Babylonian to the Palestinian Talmud; our growing sense of the editorial artistry that gave both Talmudim their present form; and a better understanding how closely both Talmudim, respectively, reflect the early Byzantine and Sasanian culture in which they evolved.
Judged by the success of the event, the time proved right for a synthesizing and collaborative conversation, enabling scholars to come together in order to assess and draw attention to relations between the Talmudim and the surrounding Christian culture, textuality, and theology. In broader scholarship on Late Antiquity, increasing attention has been given to cultural context and literary interactions. This conference enabled a ‘returning of the gaze’, illuminating important new elements of Jewish/Christian relations as well as of classical rabbinic Judaism itself. Working towards a new understanding of how to read rabbinic Judaism in light of the Christian elements of the rabbis’ Palestinian and Sasanian context, the venture proved highly stimulating.
2) The papers and the ensuing discussion.
We had invited contributions to four main topics, dedicated to exploring various aspects of the complex subject matter. The first topic was to seek to re-evaluate whether and how the Palestinian Talmud (along with the Amoraic Midrashim) reflects the Christianiziation of the Roman Empire from both a cultural and political point of view. The second topic suggested a focus on the encounter between the rabbis of the Babylonian rabbis and their Persian Christian neighbours. The third topic asked for a focus on how the Babylonian Talmud, in reworking of Palestinian Talmudic traditions, adopts and adepts Palestinian rabbinic responses to Christianity to fit its own Persian Christian context. The fourth and final topic sought to formulate a new synthesis on how the rabbis relate to Christianity, and what this can tell us about rabbinic culture as a whole. The scope of many of the papers presented not only addressed all of these four topics in various ways, but also offered insightful ways of combining them. The individual papers had been pre-circulated; the participants then summarized them efficiently (in 15-20 minutes), leaving 25-30 minutes of intensive discussion for each of them:
Moulie Vidas (Princeton University)
“The Emergence of Talmudic Culture: Overview of a Work in Progress”
This paper explored ways in which (mainly Palestinian) Talmudic approaches to the status of previous authorities differed from earlier rabbinic approaches to this same issue. In particular, the Talmud sought to attribute a consistent set of views to earlier named rabbis, and also began to make use of authoritative traditions—without, however, actively being committed to the positions put forth by those earlier authorities. The paper argued that this approach could be fruitfully compared to the approach of Christian figures such as Jerome, who could put forth the position of someone like Origen in an expository manner, while also being willing to criticize Origen’s view. Jerome, like the approach displayed in the Talmud, marked a transition into a mode of thought that could make use of, without having to be committed to, earlier authorities.
The ensuing discussion focused on whether the shift in rabbinic culture explored in the paper can be said to be a universal or at least widespread way in which traditions develop in relation to previous authorities, or whether it is more unique to rabbinic and/or Christian cultures (a view strongly defended by the presenter). In particularly, how might it relate to contemporary non-Christian Greco-Roman models of authorship?
Catherine Hezser (School of Oriental and African Studies)
“The Creation of the Talmud and Apophthegmata Patrum as Monuments to the Rabbinic and Monastic Movements in Early Byzantine Times”
This paper laid out a variety of ways in which fruitful comparisons might be explored between the Talmud, in the context of rabbinic culture, and the Apophthegmata Patrum, in the context of Christian culture. Among various elements, the fact that both texts contain a polyphony of voices, in a format that is fluid and open to development over time, was emphasized.
The discussion raised queries about whether, despite the similarities between the texts, an important difference might lie in the fact that the Talmudic texts appear to be more deliberately edited and ordered, whereas the Apophthegmata Patrum tends to have a more anthological character. There was also discussion of whether it would make most sense to contextualize the Monastic movement in relation to the Origenist rather than Chalcedonian debate (as had been proposed by the presenter). In addition, there was discussion of whether the themes presented in the paper would benefit from being put into more explicitly relation with some of the previous work on the Talmud and Christian monasticism (esp. Bar Asher-Siegal, as well as Zellentin and others) mentioned by the presenter.
Philip Alexander (University of Manchester)
“Rabbinic Political Theology after Constantine: Some Preliminary Observations”
The paper highlighted the central place that Rome held within the rabbinic understanding, as displayed in Palestinian rabbinic texts. While viewing the Roman Empire as in one sense divinely ordained, and as the final empire before the coming of the messiah, the texts also affirmed a need for Israel to withdraw from involvement in the empire itself. The paper posited that Augustine displayed an attitude similar to the rabbinic position, in also advocating a critical and largely withdrawn attitude toward the empire.
The discussion focused on the fact that Augustine, while offering critical points of view, simultaneously affirms Christian involvement in the power-workings of the Roman Empire, and so, while still critical, cannot be as easily described as withdrawn. It was also emphasized that Augustine’s City of God is a multi-faceted and potentially contradictory work, with seemingly different stances often manifesting themselves. In particular, the fact that the “two cities” are not only Rome and the Church per se, but also their invisible and eschatological extensions, makes it difficult to pin down a clear uniform position from the text. In addition, it was suggested that a parallel comparison, in the Sassanian context, could be drawn by examining Aphrahat alongside the attitudes displayed in the Babylonian Talmud.
Marton Ribary (University of Manchester)
“Comparative Talmud Research beyond the Influence Paradigm”
This paper sought to argue that fruitful comparison between rabbinic legal material and Christian-Roman legal codes could be aided by abandoning a simple notion of influence in order to account for similarities between the two. Without this restrictive framing, it is possible to uncover illuminating contrasts between, for instance, the Institutes of Justinian, and the Palestinian Talmud, for instance, in the fact that the former assigns value to previous legal concepts, but not to previous legal wording, while the latter places stronger emphasis on the significance of previous legal concepts along with actual wording.
Questions were raised concerning the proposed late dating of the Yerushalmi; a more standard earlier dating would potentially make comparison to the redacted version of the 6th-century Institutes less straightforward. In addition, there was discussion of the fact that, even if the paradigm of influence was set aside, there would still be a basis for assuming that a provincial minority culture would reflect aspects of the dominant imperial culture.
Matthias Morgenstern (Universität Tübingen)
“Reflections on Edom and Edom’s Mother in Bereshit Rabba”
The paper’s argument focused on the use of the term ‘Matrona’ in Genesis Rabbah, and the way in which the application or non-application of this term to Sarah and Rebecca might have significance for assessing rabbinic conceptions of and relation to Christian Rome, represented by the figure of Edom/Esau.
The possibility was raised that ‘Matrona’ in the rabbinic context might not be a proper name, but rather a general name for a married woman. Inversely, attention was drawn to various Christian martyrs whose personal name was ‘Matrona.’ A suggestion was raised that comparison might be made between Genesis Rabbah and Tertullian, in that both present Jacob as the ‘first born’ despite the fact that he emerges second in the birth process.
Tali Artman-Partok (University of Cambridge)
“How to kill the political parrhesia without killing the political”
The paper discussed the transformation of the notion of parrhesia in the rabbinic context, arguing that the later use of the term ‘parrhesia’ to mean ‘in public’ can in fact be understood as in fact maintaining a political dimension, whereas earlier scholarship had seen the term as having lost its previous political dimension. The paper argued that rabbinic conceptuality understood acts performed in the presence of ten Jews as being acts performed ‘in the presence of the king’, i.e., God, so that the minyan becomes not simply a religious gathering, but a political or theo-political assembly. The paper also proposed a contrast between Christian martyr narratives and rabbinic martyr narratives: in the former, those who are punished by the human king are praised by the divine king, and vice-versa, whereas in the latter, those who are punished by the human king are also those who have sinned before God, so that one is not punished by a human king unless one is also deserving of punishment before God.
Discussants raised methodological issues concerning tracing the word ‘parrhesia’, in contrast to tracing the concept of parrhesia even when the specific word is not used. Comparison was made to criticisms of Rosen-Zvi’s study of “goy”. In addition, Dov Weiss’s doctoral work on the notion of parrhesia was raised as relevant to the present study. The point was also made that in some Christian martyr narratives, there are not simply two addressees (the human king and the divine king), but also a third, namely, Satan, thus pointing to the fact that the genre is not monolithic, and thus contrasts to the rabbinic approach must be made carefully.
Daniel Weiss (University of Cambridge)
“The Christianization of Rome and the Edomization of Christianity: minut, avodah zarah, and Political Power”
Focusing on the Palestinian Talmud, this paper argued that the reason that the pre-Christian Roman empire was viewed as idolatrous in rabbinic conceptuality not simply because of the use of concrete images or statues of the emperor, but also on the basis of the fact of claiming political rulership, and especially world-rulership, which was understood as properly belonging only to God. In this regard, it was argued that in the rabbinic conception, pre-Constantinian Christianity would not necessarily have been viewed as avodah zarah, but that the merging of state-power meant that Christians would have become directly linked to avodah zarah only following the Constantinian shift.
There was discussion of whether the Mishnaic conception of avodah zarah, as well the Yerushalmi’s to a degree, specifies actual worship of images rather than an abstract concept; as such, while the emperor’s claim of world-rulership would be theo-politically problematic, it is not clear whether the claim in itself falls directly within the sphere of avodah zarah. Another concept may be needed. There was also discussion as to whether pre-Constantinian Christianity would already have been viewed as avodah zarah, merely insofar as it was a religious group viewed as ‘other’ to the rabbinic group. It was also suggested that comparison to themes in Josephus could lend support to the basic argument.
Karin Zetterholm (Lund University)
“Rabbis in Conversation with Jesus-Oriented Groups: An Ancient Version of the ’Who Is a Jew?’ Debate”
The paper focused on the Clementine Homilies in order to argue that the Homilies might represent an alternative view to rabbinic Judaism with regard to affirming a community structure in which Jews and Gentiles are encouraged to interact, which stands in contrast to the idea that rabbinic Judaism sought to limit social interaction between Jews Gentiles.
It was suggested that exploring the role of Shabbat observance among converts in Palestine and Babylonia could provide potential parallels to the ‘Clementine’ orientation. It was also raised that other texts, such as the Gospel of Nicodemus, in which figures identified as rabbis give testimony to the resurrection, could potentially indicate closer overlap between outer edges of rabbinic circles and the community of the Clementine Homilies. It was also suggested that other instances of recent scholarship (such as Zellentin’s work on the relationship of law in Clementine Homilies and law for resident gentiles in Leviticus, or Matthew Thiessen’s recent monograph on Paul and Gentiles) could be useful for fleshing out the argument. In addition, there was discussion of whether the rabbinic notion of the Noahide could constitute a fruitful comparison to the Clementine Homilies’ notion of God-fearers, so that the contrast between the two theological frameworks need not be quite as sharp.
Sophie Lunn-Rockliffe (University of Cambridge)
“Demons between the Fathers of the Church and the Rabbis”
The presentation drew out comparisons between the way in which demons are represented in rabbinic literature and in the Church fathers, addressing issues such as the potential visibility of demons, the bodily status of demons, and the ways in which demons could be repelled by written or spoken words.
The discussion raised a number of possibilities for extension of the present study, for instance, in examining how Jewish or Christian groups may have presented social competitors or ‘others’ in demonic terms. It was also suggested that attention to differences between rabbinic and patristic views of demons would be helpful. While the presenter laid out many such instances of difference, it was remarked that Christian demons are usually associated with sin, whereas rabbinic demons are associated with danger. Moreover, Christians viewed pagan gods as associated with demons, while rabbinic texts appear not to have made this association.
Holger Zellentin (University of Nottingham)
“Typology and the Transfiguration of Rabbi Aqiva (Pesiqta de Rav Kahana 4:7 and Bavli Menahot 29b)”
This paper explored aspects of the typological models of Christians and their echoes among the rabbis and claims that the key to reading one of the most researched stories in rabbinic literature lies in its Late Antique typological context, which has hitherto been neglected. In addition to exploring rabbinic reactions to the typological elevation of Adam, the paper discussed how Amoraic rabbinic literature increasingly recasts its own view of the relationship of the written and the oral Torah in ways that mirrored the Christian typology of the fulfilment of the Old Testament in the New One. A case study presented the late antique use of the transfiguration scene in art and literature as a hermeneutical key to a story in Pesiqta de Rav Kahana 4:7 72-3 and Bavli Menahot 29b.
The discussion revolved around rabbinic disruption of Talmudic discourse in order to engage with Christian conceptualities. Suggestions for further research included to inquire into non-Christian models of elevating Moses (as for example in the Tebat Marqe and the Targumim), further consideration of the ways in which the Bavli itself counters its own typological elevation of both Moses and Aqiva; and Typology further instances of reactions to Christian typological models in the Mishna and Midrash Tehilim.
“What is Hidden in the Small Box?: Kohelet Rabbah and John Moschos’ Spiritual Meadow”
This paper presented a comparative reading of distinct narrative traditions with very similar features of plot and content, with a focus on a comparison between the Palestinian midrash, Kohelet Rabba 3: 8 on the one hand and John Moschos’ Spiritual Meadow, story 203 on the other (the motifs treated were that of a sea voyage during which great wealth is sacrificed and that of a fabulous gem found in a fish). The paper asked in how far the question “who took from whom” is justified, and also dealt with the cultural mechanisms underlying the narration. The speaker concludes that the motif of “a box thrown into the sea” is clearly descended from a common prototype, and that the Christian version is primary. The second parallel is an example of a common motif, from around the same time, borrowed by the two storytellers from the common narrative continuum.
The discussion revolved around Hebrew and Greek philology, concentrating on words such as קוביה; and the Primacy of Christian over Hebrew story; as well as methodological questions regarding the comparison of texts and the question of “borrowing.” In how far does similarity between texts in different cultures serve as the backdrop of exploring the cultural differences?
Helen Spurling (University of Southampton)
“The End of the World: Interpretations of Daniel 12:1 and perceptions of the Christian “Other”
This paper dealt with the reception of Daniel by examining rabbinic traditions that utilise interpretations of Daniel 12:1, asking to what extent these traditions present reflections on Christian rule, and/or perceptions of Christian beliefs in various periods. Of particular interest were traditions that are concerned with questions of religious status and election, and, although through an eschatological lens, the perspectives they may reveal on Christian Byzantine society in Late Antiquity. The texts under consideration were Ruth Rabbah, Pirqe Mashiaḥ and Otot ha-Mashiaḥ. With different emphases, all of these exegetical approaches highlight eschatological concepts of election history centered on Torah. The traditions examined have different emphases, but can be read as portraying a view of election history in dualistic opposition to the Christian ‘other’.
The discussion explored questions such as whether “Christianity” indeed constitutes a conceptual or epistemological entity for the rabbis, why references to Christianity are oblique in earlier literature and blatant in later texts, and what constitutes the political context of the texts under discussion. Further issues where the difficult question of what constitutes a “rabbinic” tradition in the medieval period, and in how far later texts can be used as “historical readers” of earlier ones.
Michal Bar-Asher Siegal (Ben Gurion University of the Negev)
“What Will Become of Us at the Hands of the Heretics?: On Minim Stories in the Babylonian Talmud and the Case of b. Yevamot 102b”
This paper focused on one of the minim (“heretics”) narratives in the Babylonian Talmud. The paper offered a reading of the rabbi-min narrative in b. Yevamot 102b against the backdrop of the Christian understanding of the ḥalitsah ceremony. The paper claimed that the min’s discussion with Rabban Gamaliel revolves around the question of who is God’s chosen people. This is a prototypical Jewish-Christian argument, one reflected in many other sources, both Christian and Jewish. In this case, the ḥalitsah topos as employed in contemporary, Christian sources is put in the mouth of the Christian min as he interprets Hosea 5:6. The Talmudic story seems to be aware that the Christian use of this topos is grounded in a different formulation of the ritual than the rabbinic version, which relies on Deuteronomy. The paper claims that the rabbis’ precise knowledge about Christians and their engagement with them may offer yet another step in decoding the complex matrix of Jewish-Christian relations in Late Antiquity and the Persian Empire.
The discussion focused on lexical relationship between shared words used in the Bavli and in the Greek and Aramaic gospel tradition, on the Christian interpretation on Hosea (with which the rabbis of the Babylonian Talmud seem to have been eerily familiar), and on the general topos of minim in the Talmud and its potential for further research
Ron Naiweld (Centre Nationale de Recherche Scientifique)
“Some Considerations on the History of the Talmud and Christianity and a Proposition of a New Method”
This paper took a look at an older version of a paper by the same author (“The Forgotten Rabbi: The Bavli’s contribution to the ‘Judaism as the Mother of Christianity’ Paradigm”) and undermined some of its methodological and epistemological assumptions. It offers instead to look at structural similarities between the historian and the people he or she studies, in order to objectify our “empathic connection” with our subjects. This method, named by the speaker as “speculative philology,” allows us to deepen our understanding of the past by using our knowledge of ourselves as historical and ethical subjects.
The discussion revolved around the methodological assumption of present scholarship, and the epistemological bases of historical comparisons. Further points raised were that of the insider/outsider problem in the study of religion, and the dimension of gender.
Sacha Stern (University College London)
“Passover and Easter in Talmudic Babylonia”
The paper constituted a further inquiry on previous work by the presenter and considered various models of cultural “influence” at the example of calendric practices in Jewish and Christian culture. The paper’s key example was the practice of celebrating the Christian Easter “with” the Jews in the Syriac church. The example showed that it sometimes is possible to explain shared practices in the context of a concrete, and in this case polemical social context, whereas in other cases, the context cannot be fully explained.
The discussion focused on the variety of methodologies necessary to ensure capturing the variety of cultural interaction in an adequate way. A further focus was an attempt to apply the presenter’s findings, which primarily dealt with the interactions between the Babylonian rabbis and the Syriac church, to the context of Jewish Palestine.
Abraham J. Berkovitz (Princeton University)
“Opening the Psalter and Crafting a Reader: Psalm 1 Between Babylonian Jews and East Syrian Christians”
The paper dealt with the relationship between Jews and Christians, through a look at their scriptural encounters. It focused on the most cited text in both traditions: the book of Psalms. It dealt with the reception of Psalm 1 in Babylonian Talmud Avodah Zarah 18b-19b and in the Psalm commentary of Theodore of Mopsuestia. It offered to read the Talmudic passages as presenting Psalm 1 as a guidebook on the production of a Rabbinic sage. The presenter illustrated that according to a widespread East Syrian Christian interpretation of Psalm 1, the text is understood as an instruction of crafting a moral and educated Christian. The presenter then argued that the Jewish and the Christian reading should be read in light of each other.
The discussion explored whether or not there is strong evidence for rabbinic practices of psalm-recitation, and assessed the difference between the importance of interpreting the psalms on the one hand and reciting them, on the other. There was discussion of whether the tendency of scholarship to focus on polemical aspects of relations between Jews and Christians might have obscured aspects where the two traditions could more easily put forth similar interpretations of scriptural texts, as in the case of a wide range of interpretations of the psalms.
Emmanouela Grypeou (Free University Berlin)
“Necromancy in Jewish and Christian Accounts from Mesopotamia and Beyond”
This paper dealt with rabbinic interpretation of Gen 31:19, where Rachel steals the teraphim (εἴδωλα) of her father, Laban, and flees from Harran together with Jacob, illustrating it in light of archaeological and historical evidence about demonology and necromancy. The paper shows that Syriac Christian literature and the rabbinic literature clearly use common sources – possibly oral ones- that refer to necromantic sacrifices among the pagans in Harran. The details show interesting differences between the various accounts. The stronger coherence and broader dissemination of the versions of the story in the rabbinic literature suggest a closer familiarity with these cults compared to the somewhat ‘patchy’ evidence in the Syriac literature. The rabbinic sources and the Syriac accounts seem to provide complementary information on these unique necromantic practices. If we read mentioned sources side-by-side, they help us gain a more complete picture of this peculiar rite. The complementarity of the information is a clear indication of a shared cultural knowledge
The discussion revolved around the question whether ancient “sciences” such as magic and medicine are more likely to be shared between Jews and Christians than ideological more central aspects of culture. The philological details of the translation of the various sources and their importance to the main claim were discussed, as was a broader appreciation of “popular elements” as a place of meeting between religions.
Simcha Gross (Yale University)
“Persecution as Power: Pirqoi ben Baboi and John of Fenek in Context”
This paper contextualized texts from the Geonic period with Christian literature of their time, in the areas of law, exegesis and philosophy. The paper shows how a Jewish polemicist – Pirqoi ben Baboi – and a prominent writer from the Church of the East– John of Fenek – each used remarkably similar polemical and rhetorical tools but in ways uniquely suited to their respective audiences and particular contexts. It considered how Babylonian Geonim – a non-dominant group in Iraq during this period – responded, conformed or objected to the inescapable imperial context to which they were subject. It then considered how the same imperial context is reflected in, and negotiated by, neighbouring minority groups, such as the Syriac Christians. The presenter illustrated how the similar polemical and rhetorical devices employed by Pirqoi ben Baboi and John of Fenek also reflect the larger shared background to which both authors were responding.
The discussion revolved around the difficulties of writing Babylonian Jewish history after the Talmudic period, on the somewhat haphazard nature in which potentially marginal texts happen to be preserved, and on the dangers of “canonizing” specific authors when contextual data is not available.
Moshe Lavee (University of Haifa)
“There is either Jew or Gentile, Man or Woman: The Rabbinic Move from Legal to Essentialist Polarization of Identities”
This paper portrayed some textual, conceptual and legal developments documented in the Talmud concerning people of marginal and liminal identity: the Samaritans on the one hand, and the androgynos and tumtum on the other. The paper claimed that the two categories represent similar lines of development attested in areas of group or ethnic identity (i.e., the Samaritans) and gender. The presenter argued that the categories that are used in tannaitic legal discourse become a tool for understanding reality, and that the legal categories morph into an essential description of social reality. The paper ended with reflexion regarding these observations in relationship to the famous Pauline dictum: “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female,” inviting a comparative discussion.
The discussion centred on the question whether the Bavli laws on tumtum and androgynos actually introduce them as third category, and whether the Bavli does not in effect essentialize the category. Moreover, the meaning of Paul’s saying was parsed, leading to the evaluation of Lloyd Gaston’s insight that Paul, in his social and political thought, actually upholds the very categories he claims to be fused only in a higher reality.
3) A summary highlighting the most significant and productive threads in papers and discussions, with a reflection on the tasks ahead.
The most important recurrent topics in the focused and intense discussions were of methodological nature. The revolved around the integration of the broadest possible amount of evidence—drawn from literary, historical, archaeological and anthropological sources—in a framework that allows for a better understanding of Jewish and Christian identity in antiquity. The conference illustrated a growing consensus that Christianity should be seen as the most immediate and central context of rabbinic Judaism both in Palestine and in Mesopotamia; more important perhaps than even Pagan Roman and Sassanian imperial culture. At the same time, most participants shared a sense that the actual contextualization of Judaism within this Christian context must remain a piecemeal, tentative, and local endeavour, eschewing the danger of essentializing the proximate Other.
4) A statement about planned outcomes (projects, future workshops, co-operations) and outputs (publications).
The participants submitted a complete draft of their research paper a couple of months before the conference; these papers were circulated among all participants. At the event, the participants briefly summarized the written version for all present (10-15 minutes), leaving ample time for a focused discussion. The participants will submit the final version of their papers by December 31, 2016. Additionally, submissions from key scholars in the field who were not able to participate in the conference will be solicited. After a rigorous editorial review, selected papers will be submitted as a conference volume to a British University Press.
As we had hoped, the event strengthened professional bonds between all participants, and a flurry of further collaboration is currently under discussion, especially in the framework of the European Association of Biblical Studies, in personal collaboration between scholars in the UK and abroad, and in the possibility of applying for research funds for potential joint PhD programmes.
5) The actual programme of the event, including changes which may have become necessary.
Please find the program of the actual event below; the online site can be found here:
In addition to the posting on the website of the University of Cambridge, the European Association of Jewish Studies, and the British Association for Jewish Studies, the conference was advertised in a number of mailing lists, including Agade, Hugoye, and H-judaic. The postings generated considerable interest by members and numerous solicitations from quality publishing houses.
Michal Bar-Asher Siegal
The Talmud and Christianity
An International Conference at Murray Edwards College
June 27 – 28, 2016
The University of Cambridge
Organized by Michal Bar-Asher Siegal, Daniel Weiss, and Holger Zellentin
Monday, June 27, 2016
9:45 Moulie Vidas (Princeton University), “The Emergence of Talmudic Culture: Overview of a Work in Progress” (45 minutes)
10:30 Catherine Hezser (School of Oriental and African Studies), “The Creation of the Talmud and Apophthegmata Patrum As Monuments to the Rabbinic and Monastic Movements in Early Byzantine Times” (45 minutes)
11:15 Coffee Break (15 minutes)
11:30 Philip Alexander (University of Manchester), “Rabbinic Political Theology after Constantine: Some Preliminary Observations” (45 minutes)
12:15 Marton Ribary (University of Manchester), “Comparative Talmud Research Beyond the Influence Paradigm” (45 minutes)
13:00 lunch break (60 minutes)
14:00 Matthias Morgenstern (Universität Tübingen), “Reflections on Edom and Edom’s Mother in Bereshit Rabba” (45 minutes)
14:45 Tali Artman-Partok, “How to kill the political parrhesia without killing the political” (45 minutes)
15:30 Coffee Break (15 minutes)
15:45 Daniel Weiss (University of Cambridge), “The Christianization of Rome and the Edomization of Christianity: minut, avodah zarah, and Political Power” (45 minutes)
16:30 Karin Zetterholm (Lund University), “Rabbis in Conversation with Jesus-Oriented Groups: An Ancient Version of the ’Who Is a Jew?’ Debate” (45 minutes)
17:15 Coffee break
17:30 Sophie Lunn-Rockliffe (University of Cambridge), “Demons between the Fathers of the Church and the Rabbis” (45 minutes)
18:30 Dinner (By Invitation)
Tuesday, June 28, 2016
9:00 Holger Zellentin (University of Nottingham), “Typology and the Transfiguration of Rabbi Aqiva
(Pesiqta de Rav Kahana 4:7 and Bavli Menahot 29b)” (45 minutes)
9:45 Reuven Kiperwasser, “What is Hidden in the Small Box?: Kohelet Rabbah and John Moschos’ Spiritual Meadow” (45 minutes)
10:30 Coffee Break (15 minutes)
10:45 Helen Spurling (University of Southampton), “The End of the World: Interpretations of Daniel 12:1 and perceptions of the Christian “Other” (45 minutes)
11:30 Michal Bar-Asher Siegal (Ben Gurion University of the Negev), “What Will Become of Us at the Hands of the Heretics?: On Minim Stories in the Babylonian Talmud and the Case of b. Yevamot 102b” (45 minutes)
12:15 Ron Naiweld (Centre Nationale de Recherche Scientifique), “Some Considerations on the History of the Talmud and Christianity and a Proposition of a New Method” (45 minutes)
13:00 Lunch Break (60 minutes)
14:00 Sacha Stern (University College London), “Passover and Easter in Talmudic Babylonia” (45 minutes)
14:45 Abraham J. Berkovitz (Princeton University), “Opening the Psalter and Crafting a Reader: Psalm 1 between Babylonian Jews and East Syrian Christians” (45 minutes)
15:30 Coffee Break (15 Minutes)
15:45 Emmanouela Grypeou (FU Berlin), “Necromancy in Jewish and Christian Accounts from Mesopotamia and Beyond” (45 minutes)
16:30 Simcha Gross (Yale University), “Persecution as Power: Pirqoi ben Baboi and John of Fenek in Context” (45 minutes)
17:15 Moshe Lavee (University of Haifa), “There is either Jew or Gentile, Man or Woman: The Rabbinic Move from Legal to Essentialist Polarization of Identities” (45 minutes)
18:00 Farewell (15 Minutes)
Location: The Long Room, Murray Edwards College, Cambridge
The conference has been sponsored by a generous grant of the European Association for Jewish Studies and by the Cambridge Faculty of Divinity.
Attendance is free and open to the public. To rsvp, or if you have any questions, please contact Michal Bar-Asher Siegal, Daniel Weiss or Holger Zellentin.